ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort Cusseta Historic Site, Alabama
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort Cusseta Historic Site, Alabama
Walls of Fort Cusseta
The hand-hewn log walls of Fort Cusseta still stand
more than 170 years after they were put in place by
the early settlers of Chambers County, Alabama.
Fort Cusseta, Alabama
Loopholes are still visible in
the solid log walls of Fort
Cusseta, a rare example of a
surviving log fort of the 1830s.
Creek War of 1836
Fort Cusseta, now enclosed
in the metal shed behind the
marker, was built around the
time of the Creek War of 1836.
Historical Marker
A marker at the ruined fort
explains why it was built and
its importance to early settlers.
Fort Cusseta Historic Site - Chambers County, Alabama
Surviving Fort of the Creek Wars
Corner of Fort Cusseta
Screens in the shed that now
encloses Fort Cusseta allow
views of the original log walls,
allowing visitors to see how
the heavy timbers were hewn
and notched in its building.
Fort Cusseta in Chambers County, Alabama,
is a rare surviving example of a log fort built
to defend a frontier settlement from Indian

Such statements might sound stereotypical
today, but in 1836 Chambers County was at
ground zero of a dramatic conflict that would
determine the fate of the Creek Nation in
Alabama. The Treaty of 1832, signed just four
years earlier, had provided for Creek families
to leave Alabama for new lands in what is
now Oklahoma if they so chose, otherwise
they could remain and live under state law.

The treaty was extremely unpopular in the
Creek Nation, particularly among the Yuchi
and other bands of the Lower Creeks, many
of whom had not given their consent to such
an agreement. Outrage rippled through much
of the nation.

Tensions grew when white speculators,
many of them operating out of Columbus,
Georgia, flooded into Creek territory in an
effort to secure title to individual parcels of
Indian land. Many of these individuals were
unscrupulous in their tactics, using whiskey
and fraud to steal titles. Outrage among the
Lower Creeks surged.

In the spring of 1836, the Lower Creeks went
to war. Led by Neamathla (Eneah Emathla),
Jim Henry, the Brown brothers and others,
they launched devastating attacks against
white settlers in the nation and settlements
along its borders. Warriors under Jim Henry
destroyed the town of
Roanoke, Georgia,
killing many whites in the process. They were
angry because the settlement had been built
on former Indian land.

The attacks quickly spread north into
Chambers County, where local militia fought
several skirmishes with Creek warriors. The
people of the county quickly began "forting
in," as they called it in those days. Rough
stockades and blockhouses went up and
people cut loopholes in the walls of their
homes to defend against attack.

Fort Cusseta was one of these frontier
blockhouses, but it was far from hastily built.
The walls of the fort were made of massive
hand-hewed timbers. The original structure
was 16 by 30 feet and the log walls are so
thick it would have taken a cannon to break
them down.

At the four-foot level of the walls, the huge
timbers were notched for loopholes. These
small openings would have allowed the
occupants of the fort to direct a hail of rifle fire
on any attackers, while staying largely
protected from counter-fire. Loopholes were
common in such forts, but originals are rare.
Exactly when Fort Cusseta was built is not
known. As the historical marker at the site
notes, the fort was constructed sometime
after the signing of the Creek Treaty of 1832.
Its solid construction indicates it may have
been built in the four years preceding the
actual outbreak of the Creek War of 1836, but
was definitely used in that conflict.

So far as is known, Fort Cusseta was never
attacked. Local citizens and militia troops
were stationed there, however, and the fort
stood as a bulwark of safety for the area.

In later years it was converted for use as a
store and even later used as a barn and for
storage. Remarkably, though, the historic
walls of the little fort survived. Today they are
sheltered beneath a metal building built
some years ago to protect them from the
elements. Screened windows allows those
stopping by to view the log walls of the fort. A
historical marker stands at the site.

Fort Cusseta is owned by Chambers County
and despite difficulty in obtaining funding,
local citizens and leaders hope to assure its
preservation for future generations.

The fort is located on County Road 55 in the
small community of Cusseta, Alabama. To
reach the fort from I-85, use Exit #70 between
Opelika and Lanett and follow the signs for
Lafayette for about 3.5 miles to Cusseta.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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